FABEX: A successful regional food, beverage and equipment expo

By Emi M. Salgado THE Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CSCCI) staged a highly successful food, beverage and equipment expo called FABEX. Held at the Camarines Sur Capitol Convention Center last June 29 up to July 2, 2017, FABEX became a primary venue for Bicol’s micro, small, and medium food and beverage enterprises and professionals, LGUs, local producers and manufacturers, cooperatives, civic organizations, traders, etc. to promote their products and services. The four-day event initially brought to the public an exceptional food exhibition like no other. Experienced food fairs and expo goers can attest to the professional set-up, interesting program, and special events line-up of FABEX. As one seasoned food exhibitor from Manila put it, “it seems that the CSCCI has been staging a food expo for decades, not for the first time.” Sponsors and exhibitors like San Miguel Foods Inc., ECR Marketing (major credit cards), Pampanga’s Best, and the LGUs were happy and satisfied with the outcomes. They look forward to next year’s larger food, beverage and equipment event. The top 10 food expo features of FABEX are: 1. A good set of food, beverage, and equipment exhibitors from all over Bicol and Manila – the selection covers various segments of the food and beverage industry that caters to all food businesses, traders, buyers, retailers, food lovers, among others. These national and local companies and groups displayed their products and services in the most dynamic trade fair setting. 2. Chefs, chefs, and chefs - Professional, aspiring and kiddie chefs abound at the four day food event as they engaged in varied cooking demos and contests. Local chefs like Chef Doy Sto. Domingo and Chef Billy Genterola led the Parade of Chefs, with their very interesting Bicol dishes, while corporate chefs from Giorik, FY Sons, San Miguel Foods, Inc., among others, demonstrated their respective kitchen equipment, baking supplies, meat products, etc. through enticing food preparations. The aspiring contestants rendered their cooking skills during the FABEX Cook Off. Of course, the kiddie chefs also presented their talents in a delightful way. 1. Cooking Demos and Culinary Talks – as FABEX promised to be not just an F&B business and networking event, it also provided the best of actual culinary education through different demonstrations and lectures on food, beverage and equipment, including tidbits on the latest practices and trends in the food business. Practitioners and students took home valuable knowledge and it was all for FREE. 2. Showcase of local products and services, national food brands, and top of the line F&B equipment and wares - there can be no nobler feat than to highlight the best of the F&B products and services in the region. This was made possible by the institutional partners and sponsors of FABEX, especially of the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur and the Department of Agriculture. No regional expo would be considered a success without the local fares of world class quality pili, peppers, root crops, processed foods, local wines, teas, native products, handicrafts, etc. as exhibited by Bicol’s local enterprises, coops, and LGUs. Similarly, many serious buyers went to FABEX to check the latest equipment and supplies made available to the Bicol market. Bicolano owned MR Metal Industries Corporation, with its line of imported and custom fabricated cooking and baking equipment, filled the main expo lane with its superb metal products and services. Spotted were hotel owners, commercial and professional bakers, catering and café owners/managers, and industry professionals who sourced out their wares and linked with such specialized exhibitors. 3. Continuous food tastes and demos of exhibitors – be it coffee, cake/cupcake, bread, donut, sardines, organic pineapple juice, tea, grilled meat and fish, name it, FABEX shared it all to its visitors and guests. Food offerings were free, clean and fresh. They were widely distributed as the cooking events and demos went on throughout the four days. No one starved inside the FABEX halls. In-house catering was also provided by the savvy Spanish-Filipino resto, Soledad. 4. Support of institutional stakeholders like DA, BFAR, DTI, DOT, TESDA, DepEd, etc. – the first regional food expo was widely supported by these vital government agencies. They made it possible for the CSCCI to realize its goals of 1.) Strengthening the promotions of the local food business, Bicolano cuisines, gastronomic culture, attractions, etc.; 2.) Enhancing the food business practices through the invited national exhibitors, professionals, and experts; 3.) Highlighting what the local food and drinks businesses do best; 4.) Sharing the best F&B industry practices in Bicol, and 5.) Gaining skills and other business prospects. 5. Outstanding sales and promotions – FABEX never let any of its exhibitors and sponsors down as it managed to convert the large attendance into outstanding sales recorded by the participants from June 29 (Thursday) until July 2 (Sunday). The exhibition fees were truly worth it in terms of total sales and the marketing mileages and promotions. These were achieved through FABEX’ in-house coverage and extensive tri-media partnerships. 6. Traffic of Visitors, Buyers, Students, and Media – going to the Pili Convention Center was no struggle as FABEX jeeps and trikes lined up the Naga-Pili fare, from SM Naga City to CWC and vice-versa. Foodies and buyers alike trooped to the venue for their specific purposes – to check out the event, to buy their F&B needs, to eat and shop, listen to talks, network, and learn from demos, among others. To cite, the Opening Program and Day 1 was attended by people from all walks of life. Of course, everyone took their selfie/groupie shots in the attractive expo lobby as the whole venue was designed and themed as Filipino fiesta. 7. Food Business Networking – with the flock of established businessmen members of the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry managing and enjoying the event for 4 days, business linkages easily transpired. Add to it the constant visits of local government officials, industry professionals, buyers, traders, and agents, media, bloggers, academicians, etc. There was even a special Networking and Sponsors’ Night where all the FABEX participants and organizers joined the CSCCI members to celebrate their 15th year anniversary. Hence, FABEX generated hundreds of sales leads and business networks which are consummated during and after the expo. As mentioned, some of the participants have already vowed their full support for the next food event as incoming players start to inquire on the next FABEX in 2018. 10. Raffles galore – you only need to register to take home special items and freebies from FABEX. Generous sponsors like Globe Telecoms excited and prompted everyone as the program halted for these continuous draws. The CSCCI also bought highly selected prizes to delight the expo attendees and participants. FABEX generated a respectable crowd of SMEs, business owners, government agencies, LGU’s, entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, OFWs, millennials, hospitality, tourism, and business students, food hobbyists, etc. It is a unique trade event in Bicol which has been borne out of the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s commitment to serve the food and beverage industry, especially as it celebrated its 15th years of existence as a renowned business chamber in Bicol. Congratulations, CSCCI and more power to your organization! Photo credits to the Facebook pages of Gov. Migz Villafuerte, CSCCI, Bicol Mommy/Bicol Bloggers, Vilma Cortez Armea of MR Metal, and Maria Maria.